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Jamie Lamberski

Top 10 Coachella Dance Music Moments of the Last 10 Years

Coachella 2016 has arrived. One of the most-anticipated festivals of the year officially kicks off tomorrow, and the set times for the first weekend have been revealed.

This year's lineup features a heavy arsenal of dance music, and not just at the Sahara Tent. With LCD Soundsystem and Calvin Harris topping the lineup, this is the first time two of the three main headliners have been electronic music. Calvin Harris is making history as the first DJ to be billed as one of the three premier headliners. Also gracing the mainstage will be M83, Disclosure and Major Lazer. Closing out the Outdoor Theatre are heavy weights Jack Ü (Friday), Zedd (Saturday) and Flume (Sunday).

But before dance music embarks on its biggest year in Coachella history, let's look back at some of the top dance music moments over the last 10 editions of the major festival.

1. Daft Punk's Revolutionary Pyramid (2006)

The Sahara Tent was undoubtedly brimming with excitement for the triumphant return of the iconic French producers at the 2006 Coachella, but what came next was beyond any fans' wildest dreams. As music's favorite robots took the stage, they revealed what is now known as one of the most revolutionary stage designs in dance music - the LED pyramid. The legendary stage was paired with one of the duo's most talked-about performances still to this day. The spectacle not only went down in Coachella history but dance music history as arguably 'the greatest performance of all time,' and the very event that could be credited for sparking the LED movement and subsequent explosion of dance music, as music journalist Michaelangelo Matos avows in the recently released BBC documentary Daft Punk Unchained.

"No one had seen anything like that. No one had seen that level of production. No one had seen that level of LED. No one had seen that level of projection graphics. They were at a completely higher level just in terms of production than everybody." (Michaelangelo Matos in Daft Punk Unchained)

2. Skrillex Brings Out Korn (2011)

The Wall Street Journal called Skrillex's mid-afternoon set at Coachella 2011 a "coming out party for a new star." Sonny, who was 23-years-old at the time, had the overcrowded Sahara Tent going wild with the sounds of his recently released EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, and then he took it to a whole new level by bringing out surprise guests Jonathan Davis and James 'Munky' Shaffer from the popular nu metal band Korn. After treating fans to the live debut of their collaboration "Get Up," they broke into an abbreviated version of "Blind," Korn's first ever single from 1994.

3. The Chemical Brothers Glowruption (2011)

London Legends The Chemical Brothers' performance for the 2011 edition of the festival was one of only two appearances in the U.S. that year, and it became an instant Coachella classic. The hour-long, sample-free set saw the duo cover every album of their extensive catalog from their 1995 debut Exit Planet Dust all the way to their 2010 effort Further. The energy during classics like "Horse Power" and "Get Yourself High" reached critical mass, but the real apogee came during "Galvanize," which incited a most epic 'glowruption' as the crowd engaged in a massive, synchronized glow stick toss.

4. Rihanna Performs with Calvin Harris (2012)

Social media posts were pointing towards an imminent cameo from singer Rihanna at the 2012 Coachella, but it was uncertain during which set the superstar would appear. No one expected such a high-profile guest to pop up before 9pm or at the Sahara tent, for that matter, but when Rihanna joined Scottish DJ on stage during the middle of his set, the crowd naturally went nuts. The two performed Rihanna's 2011 single "Where Have You Been" and their collaboration "We Found Love." At around 5:32 in the video below you can see Rihanna jump into the crowd to embrace friend and fellow starlet Katy Perry, and they both proceed to do a little crowd surfing.

5. M83 Sets Mojave Tent on Fire (2012)

The Mojave tent was bursting at the seems when French band M83 took over for their 2012 Coachella performance. People were apparently even hanging from the roof of the tent to get a view of the stage. A life-size version of the sci-fi, alien-like character from the "Midnight City" artwork graced the stage before the foursome launched into a fiery set that culminated with the performance of their universally acclaimed single but not until after a special cover of Daft Punk's "Fall."

M83 2012 Coachella Setlist: Intro, Teen Angst, Reunion, Sitting, We Own The Sky, Steve McQueen, Fall(Daft Punk cover), Midnight City, Couleurs

6. Galantis' Live Show Debut (2014)

Christian Karlsson of Miike Snow and Bloodshy and Linus Eklow aka Style of Eye made their live debut as Galantis in a dazzling performance dubbed the Seafoxchella for Coachella 2014. The duo performed an hour-long set with live controllers and captivating visuals, which combined with their infectious pop melodies and high-energy electro vibes, took the crowd to new heights. A Coachella appearance is an ambitious way to make a live debut, but the experienced performers proved their new project was well worth the hype with a electrifying set that became a memorable festival highlight.

7. Dixon Closes Out Yuma (2014)

Coachella 2014 was a groundbreaking year for its underground dance music offerings as the Yuma Tent hosted the likes of Maceo Plex and Duke Dumont, among many other up-and-coming talents. But is was Berlin veteran and Innervisions label head Dixon who brought it all home, closing out the stage with a flawless, sweat-it-out, warehouse-style dance party that had fans swimming in a dream world of deep house, tech house and techno.

8. Gesaffelstein's Last Aleph Live Show (2015)

Mike Lévy, the Dark Prince known as Gesaffelstein, announced before last year's Coachella festival that his set would be the last Aleph Live show. The avant-garde live techno show, which made its way around the world in 2014, was in support of the French producer's debut album ALEPH, released on October 28, 2013. Opening with a stunning rendition of "Opr," apexing with a voltaic "Hate or Glory" and closing with a powerful "Duel," the dark techno lord performed from an alter amidst smoke, strobe lights and beams of white light in what was a transcendent set and perfect Aleph Live farewell.

9. Odesza Collabs with USC Marching Band (2015)

Last year's Coachella was to be Odesza's biggest show to date, so the live electronic act set out to do something truly fresh. To up the ante of their live show, the Seattle-based duo recruited Shy Girls, Young Summer and the 425 Horns. And for the debut of a huge, unreleased trap-infused track, they teamed up with the University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band, one of the most highly regarded drum lines in college football. Overall, Odesza's performance in the Gobi tent proved the electronic pop duo is determined to bring new and insteresting elements to the live electronic space.

10. Kaskade's Record-Breaking Crowd (2015)

Last year, Chicago producer Kaskade had the honor of being the only electronic artist to play the mainstage. The pressure was on, but it could not have been more successful, evidenced by the remarkable aerial drone footage captured of the crowd that gathered for his set. The footage went viral. When the numbers came in, it was confirmed that Kaskade drew for his two performances, two of the biggest crowds in the festival's history. If this wasn't a sign of electronic music's influence, we don't know what is.

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Tags Coachella
Jamie Lamberski Senior Editor

I'm a storyteller at heart, and music makes my world go round.

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